Round ‘n’ round we go — rules for roundabouts

When we asked readers for their pet peeves, roundabouts came up.

“My pet peeve is roundabout users not signaling their intentions,” said Matt Mauzey from Lake Stevens. “My noted observations are from traveling in England, where traffic flows great when everyone follows the rules!”

So let’s have a little refresher for drivers in the new Highway 9-Getchell Road roundabout. And, yes, using your turn signal is one of the tips.

Here are the other main points:

  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and to traffic already in the circle, and in all lanes, then enter a gap in the circle and proceed to your exit.
  • In a multi-lane roundabout, choose a lane before entering. And don’t change lanes once you’re in the roundabout. Choose the same lane you would in a regular intersection — so if you want to make a left turn, get in the left lane. To make a U-turn, also use the inside lane.
  • Share space with larger vehicles, like school buses and tractor-trailers, which may need both lanes to navigate a roundabout’s curve.
  • If an emergency vehicle approaches while you’re in a roundabout, don’t stop. Instead, exit the roundabout and then pull to the right.

WSDOT has a whole series of educational videos about roundabouts that it posted in 2008 when this trend picked up. It also has a roundabouts website that includes how-to’s.

Roundabouts are touted as a relatively cheap solution to busy intersections that improve safety as well as traffic flow by slowing and directing drivers. Several studies have shown a drop-off in injury and fatality collisions, in particular, though studies continue about the risks involved for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Have a question? Email us at Please include your name and city of residence. Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog.

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